Adult Stem Cell FAQs | Okyanos Cell Therapy
Who is a candidate for stem cell therapy?

Determining if a patient is a good candidate for treatment is a highly individualized process for each patient at Okyanos. The medical team will review each individual’s medical records to determine whether cell therapy is appropriate for the condition at hand.

  • The patient must not have undergone cancer treatment in the past 6 months.
  • The patient must be able to travel comfortably to The Bahamas.
  • The patent must be able to lay flat for the procedure.
  • The patient’s medical records must indicate the ability to safely undergo fat harvesting (a minor liposuction procedure).
  • The patient must have sufficient BMI for fat harvesting.
What kind of follow-up is done by Okyanos after treatment?

Wellness checks are done by Okyanos at 1, 3, 6, 10 and 30 days post-operatively to ensure that the patient has a smooth transition. In addition, Okyanos will gather data through an independent third party research organization which is under U.S. Institutional Review Board approval. This process is part of Okyanos’ follow-up on each patient’s health status in the months and years following their treatment and provides critical clinical data that can be used to improve future treatments for the patient and any other patients with similar medical conditions.

Why choose Okyanos?

Okyanos’ state-of-the-art facility is located in a government-regulated environment with routine oversight from regulators to ensure safety, and includes a Class C operating theater and Philips bi-plane cath lab for treating patients with cardiovascular disease and issues. Their team of doctors and medical staff include world-class physicians from each medical specialty including cardiology, orthopedics and neurology. These factors combine to make Okyanos a truly world-class cell therapy experience unlike anywhere else in the world that we are aware.

What are the potential benefits of cardiac stem cell therapy?

A great deal of independent research shows evidence that stem cells decrease inflammation and increase small blood vessel growth in the heart. Experience from research trials show improvement in:

  • Exercise tolerance
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pains (angina)

Each patient case is analyzed individually, and the benefits will range from patient to patient. Cardiac stem cell therapy will not cure you of heart disease but, according to research, should improve your symptoms and quality of life. For example, if you’re a walker, like to play with your children or would like to simply make it up the stairs without being out of breath—this procedure should help you towards these goals. Data from the clinical trials show marked improvements in quality of life measures in treated patients after 90 days.

How long does the stem cell treatment take?
The procedure consists of several parts, all of which all of which is completed in a full day, including observation and recovery time. Read a more in-depth overview of the stem cell therapy procedure steps here.
What are the potential benefits of cell therapy for patients with chronic conditions?

The stem and regenerative cells stored in your body fat could be likened to small “physicians” who diagnose and correct individual areas of the body in need of special attention. Because these cells have the capacity to detect changes in the body which are causing pain or dysfunction, they respond and communicate with the body’s needs to provide the correct tools needed for healing. These adult stem cells are commonly referred to as “repair cells,” their primary functions being:

  • Accelerated tissue repair
  • Stimulated tissue regeneration
  • Decreased inflammation
  • Prevention of continued premature cell death
  • Creation of new blood vessels

Re-introducing your own stem cells into an injured area of the body—be it a joint, damaged heart or other tissue—can stimulate new blood flow in these areas while reducing inflammation. Cell therapy enables the stem cells in your body to do their job as tiny little “physicians” in the process of healing. Learn more about the potential benefits of cell therapy for chronic conditions here.

Who will be performing my adult stem cell treatment?

Your procedure will be carried out by the Okyanos medical team, which is led by President Dr. Vincent Burton. He is supported by Clinical Administrator and Director of Nursing Gretchen Dezelick, RN, BSN, CNOR, LHCRM, CASC, CCRN. The treatment team includes MDs and surgeons board certified in plastic surgery, orthopedic surgery, cardiology and regenerative medicine as well as RNs, surgical technicians, echocardiographic technicians and cell processing specialists trained in the delivery of regenerative therapies. Learn more about our world-class team here.

What are the risks?

The risks are minimal. Okyanos therapies have been shown to be safe and efficacious in scientific and/or medical literature for the conditions we treat, and there have been zero reports of cell-related adverse effects  using a patient’s own adipose-derived stem and regenerative cells (ADRCs). Further, because these cells are autologous (a patient’s own) the risk of cell rejection is eliminated. For cardiac patients, the risk of bleeding is very low and the procedure is similar to having an angioplasty.

What conditions are appropriate for stem cell therapy?

Stem cell therapy can be beneficial from the earlier stages of a disease to the more aggressive and later stages. Okyanos treats patients with conditions such as heart failure, Parkinson’s, osteoarthritis and others who are seeking advanced therapies in conjunction with or beyond what is offered by the currently available standard of care. Read more about the conditions we treat here.

Why is Okyanos located in The Bahamas?

The Bahamas are a medically regulated jurisdiction, with a strong focus on safety coupled with a commitment to accelerating medical care and innovation for patients under careful oversight. Regenerative medicine and stem cell therapies remain highly unregulated throughout the world. For patients this translates to insufficient safety standards, zero facility inspection and no oversight of the resultant cell product(s) for purity and viability. Okyanos is proud to have been the first cell therapy facility to receive approval from the Bahamas National Stem Cell Ethics Committee (NSCEC) under legislation passed in 2013 which allows and regulates the use of patients’ own adult stem cells in the treatment of certain chronic conditions. In order to maintain accreditation, Okyanos has routine regulatory oversight and inspection to ensure safety.

Why use stem cells from adipose (fat) tissue and not bone marrow?

Adipose contains up to 2,500 times more stem and regenerative cells than bone marrow, is more abundant, more quickly obtained and processed to a therapeutic dose using advanced lipoaspirate technology. Stem cell extraction from bone marrow is much more painful and can take weeks to process.

Do you use embryonic stem cells?

No, we use adult regenerative cells derived from your own body fat.

Are you covered by insurance?

Not at this time. Until FDA approval, reimbursement in the US is unlikely.

How many times can I get the procedure done?

Re-treatment is an option that could provide additional benefit and which would be discussed with the Okyanos medical team.

What is the research behind Okyanos procedures?

There have been thousands of clinical studies conducted which evaluate the safety and efficacy of adipose stem cells to treat a variety of unmet healthcare needs in cardiovascular disease, orthopedics, autoimmune disorders, neurodegenerative conditions and more. Okyanos treats patients who have chronic diseases including osteoarthritis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and heart disease who seek additional therapies in conjunction with or beyond what is currently offered by the available standard of care. Okyanos therapies have been shown to be safe and efficacious in scientific and/or medical literature. We do not accept patients for treatment for whom stem cell harvest could be dangerous or in whom stem cell therapies may not be beneficial.

How much does it cost?

We ask that you call and provide us with information about your specific condition so that we may advise you on pricing. Although cost is an important factor, it isn’t the only factor. Allow us to learn about you so we can determine if our treatment is right for you.

Do you offer financing?

We can refer you to several financing sources that may work for you. Please visit our Financing page to learn more.

What kind of anesthesia will I have?

The fat harvesting procedure will be performed under IV sedation, and you will have the opportunity to meet with the anesthesiologist prior to your procedure to ensure any additional questions you have regarding the anesthetic are addressed. While in the cath lab receiving the stem cell implantation portion of the procedure, only a light to moderate sedation is required. Both fat harvesting and cardiac cell implantation require numbing the areas with a local anesthesia like the Lidocaine you would receive during a dentist visit.

What if I have a mechanical valve?

Most artificial heart valves are not a problem, but each patient’s case will be reviewed carefully by our cardiology team. The presence of a pacemaker or an implanted defibrillator poses no problem, but we will likely need to know the make and model number of these devices.

Do you use donor cells?

No, we use autologous (from self) adult stem cells derived from your own body fat. These cells are known to be safe, abundant and potent as well as easily accessible. There is also no risk of rejection using your own stem cells.